People Now Take Up 83% Of Earth's Land Surface


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Humans take up 83 percent of the Earth's land surface to live on, farm, mine or fish, leaving just a few areas pristine for wildlife, a report issued on Tuesday said.

People also have taken advantage of 98 percent of the land that can be farmed for rice, wheat or corn, said the report, produced by scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Columbia University's Center for International Earth Science Information Network in New York.

Their map, published on the Internet at, adds together influences from population density, access from roads and waterways, electrical power infrastructure, and the area used by cities and farms.

The few remaining wild areas include the northern forests of Alaska, Canada and Russia; the high plateaus of Tibet and Mongolia; and much of the Amazon River Basin.

"The map of the human footprint is a clear-eyed view of our influence on the Earth," Eric Sanderson, a landscape ecologist for the WCS, who led the report, said in a statement.

"It provides a way to find opportunities to save wildlife and wild lands in pristine areas, and also to understand how conservation in wilderness, countryside, suburbs, and cities are all related."

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